If you are looking for a Social Security disability lawyer to help you through the application or appeals process, you have several options. You can pick a lawyer at random from the phone book; you can contact a large law firm, where some of the lawyers do Social Security disability work some of the time; you can contact a national law firm that processes Social Security disability claims in an impersonal, cookie-cutter manner; or you can call us – two women lawyers who live and work in the local community, and practice Michigan Social Security disability law exclusively.
Several aspects of our practice make us unique:
(1) Our office is informal. We work out of a house, just a few doors up from the river.
(2) Our practice is small. Every one of our Social Security disability clients gets our personal attention.
(3) We listen. Our first order of business is to get to know you and to understand the circumstances that brought you to our office.
We have been serving Michigan Social Security disability claimants for decades. We bring this knowledge and experience to bear on every case, for every client.
You can learn more about us here. Below, we have provided some basic information about the application and appeals process and the factors Social Security will consider in making a disability determination in your case. More information on these topics can be found in our Social Security disability library, at the bottom of this page. We hope you will find the materials on the site to be educational and informative. Of course, if you have additional questions, or if you just would like to talk about your situation, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You may file an initial application for disability benefits online (at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/adult.htm), or by calling the Social Security Administration (1-800-772-1213) and scheduling an appointment to apply by phone or in person at a local Social Security office. Whichever method you choose, you will need to provide Social Security with information about your medical condition and treatment history, your medications, and your work history. We often find that potential clients are more than capable of filing an initial application for benefits on their own. However, depending on the circumstances of a particular case, we may decide that help with the application could be beneficial. In that case, we will assist the claimant in filing the application.
Multiple levels of appeal are available to you if the Social Security Administration denies your initial application. The first level of appeal is a hearing before an administrative law judge. While this may sound intimidating, the hearing is a golden opportunity. It is your chance to meet the person who will be deciding your claim, look him in the eye, and explain in detail how your condition prevents you from working. This face-to-face contact often makes a strong impression on the decision-maker. It may explain why, even though most initial applications are denied, more than half of all claimants who appear before an administrative law judge are granted benefits. We have extensive experience preparing claimants and witnesses for disability hearings; to learn more about how we may be able to help you, read How We Help Michigan Social Security Disability Claimants and Guide to Michigan Social Security Disability Hearings.
If the administrative law judge denies your claim for disability benefits, all is not lost. You may appeal that decision to the Social Security Appeals Council and, if your claim is denied a third time, take your case to federal court.
In determining whether to grant or deny your claim for benefits, the Social Security decision-maker will apply a 5-factor analysis:
(1) Are you presently working? [No.]
(2) Do you have a severe mental or physical condition? [Yes.]
(3) Does your condition meet the criteria of a condition found in the Social Security Listing of Impairments? [If so, then you are disabled as a matter of law.]
(4) Can you do any job you’ve done previously? [No.]
(5) Are you able to adapt to some other type of generally available work? [No.]
This analysis is called the sequential evaluation process. It works like a flowchart, in that the questions must be asked in order and a wrong answer at any point will result in a denial of benefits. To learn more about the disability determination process, read Two Paths to an Award of Benefits.
No rule or regulation requires you to enlist the help of a lawyer in applying for benefits or appealing a denial. If you choose to, you may do it all on your own. Even the Social Security Administration admits, however, that your chances of obtaining benefits improve when you rely on a knowledgeable disability lawyer to guide the way.
At MedLaw Associates, P.C., we have been helping disabled individuals get the benefits they deserve since 1987. We handle claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security disability is all we do. If you would like our help, please submit the Free Claim Evaluation form on this page, or call or email us directly.
We wish you well.
Ellen M. Hart
Marsha E. Wood
MedLaw Associates, P.C.
125 E. Kilborn Street
Lansing, MI 48906